Thursday, 30 August 2012

Worm hurdling to a PB!

With three weeks to the Great North Run, the excitement is building.  Aside of the fact that it is a family affair, a long (long) weekend is in store too as we have decided that instead of travelling up Friday and coming home on the Monday after the race as we usually do we are going to stay until Wednesday!

By way of training I've really just stuck to club training with the odd longer run at the weekend for good measure.  I'm not out to set any personal bests but instead just enjoy the race and soak up the atmosphere. I'm well and truly ready for it and Marc said the same last weekend after we completed a long run together (well not strictly true as he was way ahead of me!) I don't suppose hubby and I will see anything of our two sons who will be off like whippets at the gun.  Takes me back to 2006, our first Great North, when our two eldest sons decided after their Grandma was diagnosed terminally ill with the 'Big C' they would join us in the run (she lost her fight before we actually did the run) and raising sponsorship for Cancer Research and Martin House Hospice. I was a physical wreck for the most part, I don't even know why, but I was convinced because they both ran off with gusto, that we were going to come across them laid in the gutter, or that every siren we heard 'just might' be going to aid them.  I suppose it's a mum thing.  I'm sure this year will be similar.  I won't rest until I get to the finish and see them safe and sound, no mention of the fact that we parents are probably considered more at risk than they are!

The Askern 10 held last Monday gave me a chance to see where I am at in terms of fitness levels.  I went with the intention of giving it my best shot but really not expecting anything grand as my last to attempts at this race have really been no where near any of the other 10 mile races I have done.  I soon discovered I am worse than I thought at remembering where I have run.  I clearly had a conversation with some first time Askern runners on a club night last week and telling them it was one of the more urban 10 milers.  I really only could remember the built up areas, houses, shops etc.  In actual fact there is a large part of the race where there are fields on both sides, no off road sections but very rural! Me and my brain! Following said race anyway, I am now going to approach the Olympic Committee, my suggestion? Worm hurdling! I have never seen so many worms! Just what had brought them all to the surface of the tarmac I have no idea. Was it the stampede of runners? The recent rain maybe? I don't know but there were plenty of them. Good job I do watch where I'm putting my feet! Still getting used to the Garmin, I switched it on at the very last minute, again, by the time it had gained a GPS signal we were well and truly over the start line, a box I couldn't dicipher appeared on the screen and once I finished fumbling with it I realised there was already time and mileage on it.  It transpired I hadn't cleared it from my previous run after losing signal and the remaining mileage was now being added to my race! Crossing the finish line I didn't have a clue what time I had finished so when the results came out and I had run a 10 mile personal best by over four minutes I was elated! Maybe the worms had a hand in that!

The week ahead will hopefully be another steady week biding my time in preparation for the impending half marathon and hoping we can reach our fundraising target once again - with four of us on the team I'm hoping that won't be too difficult and we can once again do our charity, SCOPE, proud.

Wednesday, 22 August 2012

What's within?

Is there a faster runner within? I often wonder. Some time ago I clearly remember thinking I had had my lot, past my best and all that, yes seriously. That was until I found out I wasn't very well and there was a reason why I was slowing down. Since then I have improved times in races I never expected I would.  The key words there, 'never expected'. I also ask myself if placing pressure on oneself has any bearing on the outcome of a race? I don't suppose I'll get answers to those questions if indeed there are any! Looking at the bigger picture, I suggest there's really not one reason but whole load of reasons why we sometimes don't perform as well as we would like.

I'm currently reading 'Run Like a Girl' by Mina Samuels, another of my birthday gifts (thanks Soph), described on the website as 'part locker-room confidential, inspiring manifesto, and personal memoir, the book shows us, through stories of nearly a hundred women, how the confidence women build by participating in sports - whether it's running or rock climbing, swimming or yoga - can transform our lives in profound ways. Lively, funny and sometimes heartbreaking, in the candid stories, which fill it's pages, these women share how sports helped them overcome life's obstacles and achieve the happiness and success they'd been running toward'. I'm gripped after reading the first few chapters so more on that later.

I'm now working towards the Askern 10 mile, the Great North Run and the Bridlington Half Marathon.  All of these I have aspirations to beat previous times.  That, I think, is a for gone conclusion with most runners, we all want to better our times but some of us don't want to broadcast it as the thought of public failure is much worse than private failure.  Of course taking part and finishing a race really isn't a failure at all is it?  Try telling us that! It seems to be how you deal with it within yourself.  I have known people who have pulled out of a half marathon race 5 miles in because they knew they weren't going to get the time they had set out to do and won't settle for anything less.  That, I find bizarre.  I won't and don't follow my time so closely that I could make such a decision early on in a race, I tend to take the 'what will be will be' attitude.  The outcome is at or extremely near the finish and no time sooner. I have only publicly declared my intentions in a race on a couple of occasions and sadly fallen down both times, denting my confidence so making me reluctant to do it again. The laid back approach is much more appealing. Unless of course Mina Samuels manages to convince me otherwise!

Monday, 13 August 2012

Rounder, rounder, all rounders

What a week! Wednesday saw us travelling over to York for the second time in 4 days.  Not so much of a traffic headache this time though as not a fraction of the runners were likely to turn up for the 8th Race in this year's YVAA series! Hosted by Knavesmire Harriers the (mainly) off road route for this race is a flat out and back in and around the racecourse.  The only grumble I have is the last mile and a half or so which is along the riverbank and it seems to last for an age.  I did though, feel like I had put all I had into it and proved that was the case when the results came out next morning I was flabbergasted! My 2011 time 55:11, my 2012 time 48:54.  2013 is going to be very interesting in terms of the races I have managed to better my times in, not necessarily a distance PB but quite a few course PB's and if I get to grips with the Garmin stats to boot it could begin to border on 'geekish', time will tell!!

Dancing daisy!
Thursday this week saw me visiting fellow running buddy Anne's house along with a few other Eccleshill team mates.  'Girlie Gardening' brought us out on a non-run night with the aim of raising funds for Cancer Research.  Being more of an allotment gardener than a 'home' gardener, I'm happy for the shrubs to do their thing in my front garden as long as they flower now and again and in the back, a simple hammock and table and chairs on a raised area of bark surround a neat lawn, flanked by high conifers and privet hedge, it's secluded and private. So, whilst the 'girlie' pink gift sets, wellies and the like were very appealing I considered them more suitable as gifts rather than splashing out on myself (which incidentally I'm not very good at!). I did, however, order a pair of pink gloves - modelled on a golf glove I was told, they looked very fashionable and were ever so comfortable.  I don't know if I'll be able to bring myself to take them down the allotment but I may well consider 'wearing them in' by driving in them for a while during the Winter months! They'll match my dancing pink daisy sat on the dashboard : )

Friday club run took us out along the canal, being another warm, humid evening the bugs were out in force once more luckily, no incidences this time.  Homeward bound on the road we were back in ample time to get home for the next exciting round of Olympic action.  The weekend culminated in more Mo & Usain action, oh the excitement boiled over as Mo started at the back in the 5000 metres, working his way up to the front with 700 metres left he joined the Ethiopians and Kenyans, they gave him a run for his money and I can imagine the whole nation was jumping up and down and shouting at the TV like we were! He did us proud!

With our ERR annual rounders match and bbq at Undercliffe Cricket Club and the closing ceremony on Sunday evening, well I could hardly contain myself! The weather was grim all morning but although the forecast was for showers, it promised to brighten up late afternoon.  Everyone arrived clutching their offerings to the buffet come barbie and off out onto the cricket pitch we set to divide ourselves into two (very large) teams. Oh what fun! After a while the heavens opened but we managed to continue until the end of a match and then went inside. The barbequers managed to keep on cooking and everyone was inside and out until finally it stopped.  After consuming our food quite a few of us decided on resuming play.  Much fun was had by all and a fantastic weekend was topped off by the closing ceremony of the Olympics - not quite a match for the opening ceremony but pleasing to watch all the same.
waiting to bat!
The best team won!

Monday, 6 August 2012

On track!

It seemed very fitting that we should visit the track amid all the hype of the Olympics.  I have never been so interested in such an array of sports as I have for the past week or so.  I've been drawn in by such sports as judo, hand ball, beach volleyball and the list goes on.  Never more so than the athletics though.  I am usually against day time television and will not tolerate it when I am at home unless it's something special like World Cup football or the closing stages of Wimbledon but we have had the television on from morning til night.  Just a shame I've had to go to work in between. Special events I have had a sneaky peak on the lap top at work.  Thank heaven for iplayer technology! I'm not sure whether everyone who turned up had been inspired by said Olympics but we certainly had a great turn out for the track session and the 100 & 200 metre sprints and relay race were tackled with lots of effort and enjoyed by all so plans are in place to offer these type of sessions once a month whilst members want to do it.

I received a Garmin watch for my birthday and am just starting to get to grips with it.  I've logged my training and racing information for a lot of years on Fetcheveryone and really love being able to look back and compare stats - be it how many miles I've logged in a month or a year to what time I did a certain race in.  It's not always an improvement but feels good when it is! I've no doubt stats play a part in motivation on occasions.  The Garmin is proving to be an interesting gadget.  I've always used the Nike+ Sportband and for me, it's been invaluable, easy to use and quite reliable, that is until a few weeks ago and it stopped syncing with my sensor (worn in the shoe).  I ran a few weeks without a watch at all until my quick thinking husband bought me the Garmin for my 50th Birthday.  The first few uses proved beyond me, I didn't manage to get a GPS signal on my first couple of outings, then when I did I didn't manage to record all my run, I was slightly frustrated but then all of a sudden everything seemed to click into place and for the first time I wore it for a race, the Jane Tomlinson 10k at York and managed to upload my run and see mile splits, elevation etc. All very exciting!  Here's some of the info from the race:
Garmin Forerunner 110

Avg Pace

I was surprised when I looked at my watch at the 5k mark and had done it in 25:11 but I also knew that my aspiration of a sub 50 10k was out of the window as I probably wouldn't complete the second half quicker but it spurred me on and I was pleased to see that I was quite consistent until the last couple of miles when I slowed slightly but overall was quicker than last year despite there seeming to be even bigger crowds of runners to negotiate, twisting and turning, jumping up and down curbs.

So the weeks are flying by as we near the end of Summer training at Apperley Bridge with only a few weeks left until we move back up to our Winter training base at Undercliffe. If the Summer doesn't pick up we'll no doubt end up moving earlier than previous as the darker nights draw in.  Until then though here's hoping we can enjoy our last few weeks of being able to at least fit in some scenic routes - tonight's session isn't very scenic though unless your idea of scenic is perhaps pubs as we stage another monthly 3 mile time trial and there are quite a few en route, no calling in though! Alas, Wednesday's and Friday's runs are much more appealing!

Thursday, 2 August 2012

Bothersome bugs!

We welcomed yet another new lady for a try out with the club, she had actually been to club for the first time the week before whilst the majority of us were at the Golden Acre Park relay.  She was introduced to the Wednesday night group as Hazel.  We warmed up and set out towards the canal towpath with a choice of three distances ahead of us, all out and back and totalling 11, 8 or just over 5 miles.  I opted for the middle one and under the grey clouds we settled into various groups and pairings.  I went out with Ghizala whom I've found recently on some runs I can keep up with.  We seemed to be keeping quite a good pace, arriving at the turn around point for the shortest run Ghizala stopped with a view to turning back.  I admire her so much for keeping up with her training even though she is fasting during Ramadan. I continued on towards the next turn around point in Shipley.  A few minutes later, slap! A fly landed in my eye, I continued to run and tried my best to eject it.  Arriving in Shipley I still had the resident fly which by now was becoming irritating.  Marc made several attempts to remove it without success.  I had no option but to try fashion an 'eye bath' by squirting water from my drinking bottle into my eye.  After two flushes out it came much to my relief! We set off on our return journey and a while later came across the group doing the shorter run, they had decided to run a little further and meet up with us.  I began chatting to Hazel about walking the Three Peaks and running half marathons and before we knew it we were back at Apperley Bridge.  All in all a good paced out and back run.

Recently I've been doing a little reading into bothersome bugs as we have had quite a few club members being bitten whilst out running, blaming off road running initially, all that changed when we visited Horsfall track on Thursday and the pesky insects were out and biting again!  It seems there's all sorts of theories on the subject as to why some people get bitten and others don't, particularly by mosquitoes which incidentally I have always associated with warmer climes and was shocked to learn there are over 35 species in the UK! Theory has it that all humans emit kairomones, common ones include C02 and lactic acid.  It's thought that we all have our own kairomone signature which is probably unique to the individual in the same way as our fingerprints and different species prefer different kairomones just as some people prefer spicy and others don't!  Very plausible since we 'gasp' half the time we are out running so must emit more carbon dioxide than most and also it's a known fact that lactic acid is produced whilst running.

So why when we all have the common factors which attract them don't we all get bitten? Well, it's thought that some people have certain chemicals in their blood, sweat and tears which act as a repellent and some of these naturally produced molecules may also be masking individual kairomones in the same way as incognito anti-mosquito spray camouflages users! So my sympathies to those who were bitten in the last few weeks, I know some of them are suffering terrible after effects but it may be worth their while to undertake some steps to camouflage themselves and keep experimenting to find what works for them as what works for one person may not necessarily work for everybody!

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
kairomone is a semiochemical, emitted by an organism, which mediates interspecific interactions in a way that benefits an individual of another species which receives it, without benefiting the emitter.[1] This "eavesdropping" is often disadvantageous to the producer (though other benefits of producing the substance may outweigh this cost, hence its persistence over evolutionary time). The kairomone improves the fitness of the recipient and in this respect differs from an allomone (which is the opposite: it benefits the producer and harms the receiver) and a synomone (which benefits both parties). The term is mostly used in the field of entomology (the study of insects). Two main ecological cues are provided by kairomones; they generally either indicate a food source for the receiver, or the presence of a predator, the latter of which is less common or at least less studied.[1]